Gerhardsen Gerner is very pleased to announce an exhibition with new works by the American painter Lari Pittman, on occasion of the GALLERY WEEKEND BERLIN 2012.
Lari Pittman pursued painting at CalArts in the 1970s, when virtually everyone else was turning away from the medium. At times his particular brand of painting – which has always borrowed in equal measure from decoration and high art – has appeared positively visionary, it was so far beyond the mainstream. Now, as a younger generation of painters has come under his influence, he appears more an artist ahead of his time.
It is possible to look back through Pittman’s output and see general trends. But it is difficult to separate out distinct periods. Just when did his figures start to layer and almost merge, losing the collagelike feel of some earlier work? And when have his paintings, which so openly relate to sex and repression, given way to lush compositions flowing frenzied across the canvas, yet still remaining but a clearly defined part of the visible? Certain motifs, such as the balloonlike heads and disembodied dancing legs, have occurred for decades, while others might develop in a few series, then disappear only to reemerge years later. In Pittman’s view, it is all of a piece. “For me, painting is a continuous practice,” he says. “It is a language you build up over time.”
Rather than a rational narrative, a Pittman painting delivers a heady mix of allusions and chains of references. When preparing for a new show, he begins by thinking of loose themes that both distinguish the new paintings and connect them to previous bodies of work. “I have always used a very formal structuring of the event in a space,” says the artist. “In these works it is a sort of proscenium.”
For this year’s Gallery Weekend in Berlin, Gerhardsen Gerner will be showing four new larger paintings on canvas and ten small paintings by Lari Pittman.